Cell Service at sea???

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#1
467 Posts
Joined Jul 2005
I know you can get service at the ports, but does the ship have any cell capacity? We have ATT wireless. Appreciate any help with this problem.
#2
Port St. Lucie, FL
1,710 Posts
Joined May 2005
While my carrier, Verizon, does have a roaming agreement to allow you to use a CDMA cell phone on board most Princess ships, AT&T does not according to their web site. Give AT&T a call and see if that has changed recently, but from what I can see, no.
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#3
12,494 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
Most of the ships have now been modified to allow cell access while onboard. I'm sure someone has the list of what ship is getting it and when.

The the costs depend on your carrier. If you want to use the ship-to-shore line (regular phone in your cabin), then the cost is $4.99 a minute. Seems steep, but some cell phone carriers aren't far behind that cost.
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#4
Coastal North Carolina
6,886 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
I have AT& T, and never got any reception other than when we were in/near ports
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#5
Surprise, AZ
2,072 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by dcl1710
I know you can get service at the ports, but does the ship have any cell capacity? We have ATT wireless. Appreciate any help with this problem.
Most of the Princess ships now have Celluar service provided by MCP. They do have roaming agreements with most US Cell Telephone Carriers. What ship will you be on I can check my list. I know for Sprint the cost is $2.49 per minute when at sea. The Ship system is only active when at sea in international waters and now when they are in port.

Alan
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#6
Minnesota
360 Posts
Joined May 2008
I have Verizon. My cell would not work on the Ruby unless I was close to an island or land. Then I received text messages that roaming charges would apply.
#7
COLORADO
57,962 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
I have used the MCP service while at sea with my AT&T phone several times over the last year on the Island/Emerald/Ruby and was never charged any extra on my bill.
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#8
San Antonio spaceship earth
6,816 Posts
Joined Nov 2006
Originally posted by Colo Cruiser
I have used the MCP service while at sea with my AT&T phone several times over the last year on the Island/Emerald/Ruby and was never charged any extra on my bill.
Interesting comment. MCP CellatSea, not to be confused with another service called Cellular at Sea, provides cellular support on Princess ships for both GSM (AT&T, Cingular and TMobile) and CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) phones. CellatSea maintains the cell and sells time to your carrier for your use. When you use your cell phone, CellatSea bills the time to your carrier who then bills you with a markup of course. It is up to your carrier what they charge you for the service and can vary between carriers.

I have looked at AT&T (Cingular), which I have, to see if they have a working agreement with MCP CellatSea. It appears that they do not. Therefore it is highly likely that an AT&T cell phone will not work but remember that the cell will communicate with a GSM phone such as AT&T sells and you could get through. Stranger things have happened.

It may be that you would need a AT&T GSM four frequency band phone to use the CellatSea tower. Some AT&T phones particularly older and bottom end models are only two band which is used in the USA. The four band models are frequently sold as "world" phones. The problem is that the USA/Canada uses two frequency bands and Europe and most of the rest of the world uses a different two frequency bands. Hence you have to have all four bands on your cell phone to work around the world. The good news is that the rest of the world uses GSM technology making AT&T compatible with most countries.
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#9
204 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Just got off the Pacific Princess doing a 28 day Caribbean and Amazon River cruise. I have ATT phone and usually had MCP showing on the screen while at sea. When docked or close to land, the local carrier's signal took over. I made text messages but no phone calls using the MCP signal. Text messages were fifty cents each.
#10
Valencia Calif
670 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
From my understanding, the only phone that will work when you are in the middle of the ocean, is a satalite phone. We rented one and had good reception (out on the balcony). They are expensive to rent but for us keeping in touch with the family, was worth it. We used our cell phones when we were in the ports. they have package prices so you can prepay for minutes and estimate how much the total will cost you.
#11
COLORADO
57,962 Posts
Joined Jan 2004
Originally posted by satxdiver
Interesting comment. MCP CellatSea, not to be confused with another service called Cellular at Sea, provides cellular support on Princess ships for both GSM (AT&T, Cingular and TMobile) and CDMA (Verizon and Sprint) phones. CellatSea maintains the cell and sells time to your carrier for your use. When you use your cell phone, CellatSea bills the time to your carrier who then bills you with a markup of course. It is up to your carrier what they charge you for the service and can vary between carriers.

I have looked at AT&T (Cingular), which I have, to see if they have a working agreement with MCP CellatSea. It appears that they do not. Therefore it is highly likely that an AT&T cell phone will not work but remember that the cell will communicate with a GSM phone such as AT&T sells and you could get through. Stranger things have happened.

It may be that you would need a AT&T GSM four frequency band phone to use the CellatSea tower. Some AT&T phones particularly older and bottom end models are only two band which is used in the USA. The four band models are frequently sold as "world" phones. The problem is that the USA/Canada uses two frequency bands and Europe and most of the rest of the world uses a different two frequency bands. Hence you have to have all four bands on your cell phone to work around the world. The good news is that the rest of the world uses GSM technology making AT&T compatible with most countries.

All I can say is that it was the service provided onboard when at sea.
I never saw any additional charges on my bills.
Maybe I was lucky as I know the service is not free.
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Keith
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#12
12,494 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
Originally posted by Celest1022
From my understanding, the only phone that will work when you are in the middle of the ocean, is a satalite phone. We rented one and had good reception (out on the balcony). They are expensive to rent but for us keeping in touch with the family, was worth it. We used our cell phones when we were in the ports. they have package prices so you can prepay for minutes and estimate how much the total will cost you.

Where do you get a satellite phone? If they work at sea, wouldn't they work all over Europe too? It could kill two birds with one stone for me.
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#13
Granbury, TX
866 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
I talked to Sprint's customer service and was very surprised at their well informed response. First, they asked me what ship I was going to be on! For the Crown, they said it has it's own tower and while at sea - $2.49/min, not sure on data plan. In ports, you can get island tower service @ Turk & St Maareten - $1.99/min, $.16/kb for data. In Bahamas (Cays) - $2.29/min if it get's signal but no data avail. Here's the part I like, in St Thomas since I have an everything plan, they consider that island to be domestic so there's no other charge than my normal monthly access fee. I think I'll only be turning my phone on once during the cruise! Just need to make sure that you're on the island tower, not the ships. As one post mentioned, they should be turning the ships tower off at ports. Anyway, hope I didn't misquote Sprint on any of the above.
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#14
12,494 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
I have a Sprint phone and that's pretty much what I've found with them. The costs vary according to the port, and at sea, we paid $2.99 a minute last year, so $2.49 now sounds right.

The unusual thing is that my DH has a (Sprint) Nextel phone and he rarely got coverage at sea when my phone had great coverage. Go figure.
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#15
Aliso Viejo, CA
41,608 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
Originally posted by sunsetbeachgal
I have AT& T, and never got any reception other than when we were in/near ports
As was explained, you need a GSM phone in order to make calls outside the U.S.

Originally posted by Lady Jag
I have a Sprint phone and that's pretty much what I've found with them. The costs vary according to the port, and at sea, we paid $2.99 a minute last year, so $2.49 now sounds right.

The unusual thing is that my DH has a (Sprint) Nextel phone and he rarely got coverage at sea when my phone had great coverage. Go figure.
Nextel is notorious for having lousy coverage; at least, it has been in the past. When I lived in the Boston area, if you were driving to Maine, for instance, you lost signal about 50 miles north of Boston and didn't pick it up again until you were approaching Boston.

When you use your cell phone at sea, the charge isn't to your onboard account but to your phone bill. Also, I believe there are additional roaming charges on top of the $2.49/minute. I pay $5.99/month for my AT&T iPhone so I can make/send calls all over the world and my roaming rates are reduced. Here's a link to the AT&T FAQs page about international dialing. This might answer some of your questions; check out the links on the left-hand side of the page for information about "Go Phone" and packaages.
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#16
12,494 Posts
Joined Apr 2001
Originally posted by Pam in CA
Nextel is notorious for having lousy coverage; at least, it has been in the past.
Interesting! It's a business phone paid for by the company, so I guess we can't complain too much, and actually, at times it's GREAT not to get coverage on his phone!! Too bad it doesn't cut out more often!

I have dreams of tossing it into the pool...
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